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[muhs-kyuh-ler] /ˈmʌs kyə lər/
of or relating to muscle or the muscles:
muscular strain.
dependent on or affected by the muscles:
muscular strength.
having well-developed muscles; brawny.
vigorously and forcefully expressed, executed, performed, etc., as if by the use of a great deal of muscular power:
a muscular response to terrorism.
broad and energetic, especially with the implication that subtlety and grace are lacking:
a muscular style.
reflected in physical activity and work:
a muscular religion.
Informal. having or showing power; powerful:
a muscular vehicle.
Origin of muscular
1675-85; < Latin mūscul(us) muscle + -ar1
Related forms
muscularity, noun
muscularly, adverb
intermuscular, adjective
intermuscularly, adverb
intermuscularity, noun
nonmuscular, adjective
nonmuscularly, adverb
postmuscular, adjective
submuscular, adjective
submuscularly, adverb
unmuscular, adjective
unmuscularly, adverb
3. sinewy; strong, powerful; stalwart, sturdy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for muscular
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He knew the power in her lean, muscular arms, the strength in her narrow shoulders.

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • A little, muscular, brown man, with black hair and white teeth.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • He had not touched a muscle or a muscular nerve; what then was the nature of these movements?

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • But Modred was in the pride of youth; muscular and sinewy was the frame of Modred.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • Men, she says, maintain their muscular strength by military service.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
British Dictionary definitions for muscular


having well-developed muscles; brawny
of, relating to, or consisting of muscle
Derived Forms
muscularity (ˌmʌskjʊˈlærɪtɪ) noun
muscularly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin muscularis, from musculusmuscle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for muscular

1680s, "pertaining to muscles," from Latin musculus (see muscle (n.)) + -ar. Earlier in same sense was musculous (early 15c.). Meaning "having well-developed muscles" is from 1736. Muscular Christianity (1857) is originally in reference to philosophy of Anglican clergyman and novelist Charles Kingsley (1819-1875). Muscular dystrophy attested from 1886.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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muscular in Medicine

muscular mus·cu·lar (mŭs'kyə-lər)

  1. Of, relating to, or consisting of muscle.

  2. Having or characterized by well-developed muscles.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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muscular in Science
A body tissue composed of sheets or bundles of cells that contract to produce movement or increase tension. Muscle cells contain filaments made of the proteins actin and myosin, which lie parallel to each other. When a muscle is signaled to contract, the actin and myosin filaments slide past each other in an overlapping pattern. ◇ Skeletal muscle effects voluntary movement and is made up of bundles of elongated cells (muscle fibers), each of which contains many nuclei. ◇ Smooth muscle provides the contractile force for the internal organs and is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Smooth muscle cells are spindle-shaped and each contains a single nucleus. ◇ Cardiac muscle makes up the muscle of the heart and consists of a meshwork of striated cells.

muscular adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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